Simon Rattle Portrait Shot On 150-Year Old Camera Unveiled At NPG
A previously unpublished photograph of the British conductor Sir Simon Rattle by Rory Coonan has been unveiled at The National Portrait Gallery. The portrait was shot in 1982 on film, using a 150-year-old plate camera. The acquisition is announced to mark Sir Simon’s 60th birthday, today, Monday 19 January 2015, and ahead of his concerts in London with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, of which Liverpool-born Rattle is Principal Conductor.
The 1982 photograph by Rory Coonan was taken when Rattle was 27 years old, two years after he was appointed Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He is shown in Craxton Studios, London, a rehearsal space for musicians designed as an artist’s studio in 1901.
In 1945 the house was bought by Harold Craxton, pianist and teacher at the Royal Academy of Music, who taught there and accompanied some of the finest musicians of the day. Their six children included oboist Janet Craxton and painter John Craxton RA.
Sir Simon Rattle was born in Liverpool in 1955 and studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He was appointed Principal Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic in 2002. Previously, he was Principal Conductor of the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (1980-1998). He was knighted in 1994 and received the Order of Merit in 2014, an award in the personal gift of The Queen.
Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra perform at London’s Barbican Hall (10, 11, 12 February 2015) and Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre (14, 15 February 2015). A programme of BBC broadcasts in celebration of his birthday begins tonight [Monday 19 January] on BBC Radio 3.
Rory Coonan was educated at Oxford University (1973-76) and the painting school of the Royal College of Art (1978-80). He held various posts at the Arts Council of Great Britain, including Head of Architecture. In 1994-7 he created the innovation body NESTA; established the National Lottery Design Panel (1992-96). He was a member of the Franco-British Council and was awarded a Fellowship of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2000. His publications include Atget (Serpentine Gallery, 1984); Henri Cartier-Bresson: “The Man who Shook the World”, “The Times” (1986); Barcelona (photograph, Hayward Gallery, 1985), Rodin (Hayward Gallery, 1986) The Burghers of Calais; American Painting (1982). He is author of ‘Culture’ in the forthcoming History of the Coalition Government (Cambridge University Press, 2015), edited by Sir Anthony Seldon.
The newly acquired photograph by Rory Coonan joins six other photographs of Sir Simon Rattle in the Collection by Sheila Rock, Tom Zimberoff, Anne-Katrin Purkiss and three by Trevor Leighton.
IMAGE: Sir Simon Rattle by Rory Coonan, 1982 © 1982 Rory Coonan; National Portrait Gallery, London